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Ex-dictator Mengistu faces death penalty in Ethiopia

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Ex-dictator Mengistu faces death penalty in Ethiopia

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Ethiopia’s Supreme Court has sentenced former Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam to death in absentia, after he was found guilty of genocide. The court followed the prosecution’s request for tougher punishment, overturning a life sentence handed down in 2007.

Mengistu seized power in 1974 after the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie. Under Mengistu tens of thousands of Ethiopians were butchered, tortured or detained during the infamous “Red Terror” purges of the late 1970s. The former dictator fled to Zimbabwe in 1991, where he remains, after his 17-year Marxist regime was toppled by forces led by current Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.